Replace or Remodel . . . Of
By: Joanne L.
Gardiner - Cell phone:
Many owners of San Francisco
Bay Area mobile homes are in a quandary as
to what to do with their older homes.
Should they replace
them with a brand new one or should
they remodel them? Or, should they sell
them to a dealer? Our sister company A.R.M.
Homes, a mobile home and manufactured home
dealership, purchases some homes from individuals
even in this market. Call me for
Many buyers of
mobile homes prefer the look of the
older traditional mobile homes of the 1970s. There
is a vagabond allure to those classics that began a
groundswell of popularity following World War
II and took off with the 1954 Lucille Ball, Desi
Arnes movie "The Long Long Trailer." By
the mid-1970s mobile home parks were popping up in
every community. They offered more of a country
club atmosphere that quickly replaced
the trashy trailer park image of earlier
you own a vintage home and want to update it,
by all means do so. There are scads of people
doing the same thing. Browse our mobile home remodel
Mobile homes and
manufactured homes built prior to
1981 usually enjoy a tax break because their
licensing fee per year is about $100 compared to being
on the county's personal property tax rolls.
However, in addition to tha annual license fee you will
pay sales tax when you purchase unless you opt to have
the home placed on the personal property tax
tax generally costs $1,000 to $3,500
and in some in cases more.
If the mobile home or manufactured
home is on the county personal property tax
rolls the annual taxes range between $500
and $2,000 and more in some cases. However,
then you do not pay sales tax at close of
escrow. All modular, mobiles and manufactured
homes built in 1981 or later and not on a permanent
foundation automatically go onto the county's
personal property tax rolls.
Several of my clients have chosen to buy
a 1970s mobile home or manufactured home with the
intention to remodel as was the case with my
client client Freeman S. who set out to buy a
mobile he could remodel to suit his taste and lifestyle.
He did just that and the end result is breathtaking.
For information on buying or
selling mobile homes or manufactrued
homes, please contact me at 510-429-4800 or send me
a note on the form.
Joanne L. Gardiner, Broker, e-PRO
CA Brokers License #00822285
Sales Agent for A.R.M. Homes
Department of Housing and Community
Office: 510-429-4800 or Cell:
Location: 30139 Industrial
S.W. #G - Hayward, Ca 94544 -
Browse their web
~ Home Sweet Mobile
Thanks to Ms. Sue Siegfried for
contributing this article
Trash? Not a Scent of It
By Mireya Navarro,
mobile home at Point Dume Club in Malibu, Calif. People
are buying motor homes and creating palaces, some of
which sell for $1 million.
MALIBU, Calif. - After making a
fortune with his skateboard company, World
Industries, Steve Rocco could have lived anywhere he
wanted. He chose Paradise Cove, a woodsy neighborhood on
a cliff overlooking the Pacific, where he bought a home
for nearly half a million dollars and then spent more
than $1 million replacing it with a Craftsman-style
But Mr. Rocco's
place is not exactly on millionaire's row. Paradise Cove
is a mobile home park.
"It's probably the best spot in the Southern
California coast," he said.
may conjure images of retirees and low-income families
in most of the country, but in Malibu parks that once
drew the elderly, working class and bohemian are now
being transformed into the new playground for the rich.
Here new owners with the means to decorate with marble
floors, recessed lighting and Sub-Zero refrigerators are
replacing 1970's flat-roof aluminum metal-sided trailers
with mobile homes in Craftsman, Cape Cod, Tuscan or
Spanish villa styles that come with two-car garages.
the most expensive housing market in the nation, the
listings say it all.
drop-dead gorgeous, bluff top, custom architectural
home, built in '05," read one recent ad for a
2,100-square-foot home with panoramic views of the ocean
and the Santa Monica mountains.
is not the detached single-family kind; that could go
for more than $10 million around these parts, real
estate agents said. The location is Malibu's Point Dume
Club mobile home park, and the asking price is a mere
"The world has
changed," said Janet Levine, the developer selling this
property and beautifying two others for resale at Point
Dume. "Spaghetti is now pasta. Religion is now
spiritual. It's no longer a mobile home park. It's a fab
For mobile home
buyers like Mr. Rocco, 45, a former professional
skateboarder who is more into surfing these days, the
main draw to Paradise Cove was the beach and a cozier
style of living, he said. The lots are still slivers of
land where homes sit a few feet from one another under a
canopy of eucalyptus trees, pine and palms, and
neighbors run into one another at the children's
playground or laundry room.
eclectic mix of surfers, older residents, celebrities
like Minnie Driver and affluent professionals and
businessmen like himself, he said, many know one
"I know my
neighbors' names, and I'm not the friendliest guy in the
world," he said.
But just like
other newcomers in recent years, Mr. Rocco, who bought a
trailer for $430,000 in 2003 in an oceanfront spot,
discarded the old structure to build a new one with all
the accouterments he and his wife needed to make it
livable: walls, countertops and beams of mahogany and
maple with veneer dyed in blues, greens, oranges and
yellows; shiplike nooks and crannies that hold
bathrooms, bedroom lofts and a workout room; a Yosemite
stone fireplace; a grand piano in the living room;
upstairs and downstairs decks.
All in all it
is 2,100 square feet, on a triple-wide lot where the
only evidence of the home's humble origins are the
raised foundation, a requirement for mobile homes, and
the original trailer hitch, where Mr. Rocco plans to
plant his mailbox.
His home now
sticks out amid the more traditional mobile homes in the
park, but "it's just a nice house," Mr. Rocco insisted.
"I don't have gold fixtures." But he was somewhat
self-conscious; he did not allow pictures of himself or
Cove is a throwback to more congenial times, the more
upscale neighbors now welcome newcomers with a bottle of
Champagne rather than pie. That is what Will Conrad, 37,
an emergency room doctor from Santa Monica, said his
neighbors did when a truck brought his new manufactured
home up the hill to install in his lot last summer. It
was the replacement, he said, for the $450,000
1,000-square-foot "decrepit" 1971 rollaway he had bought
in 2003 as a second home.
Dr. Conrad said
he grew up in Malibu and remembers coming to the mobile
home parks as a child for classmates' birthday parties.
"The homes were
considered a notch below everybody else's," he said.
adulthood Dr. Conrad has other priorities. A
recreational surfer, he wanted the waves without the
crowds, and Paradise Cove, with a guard booth at the
entrance, restricts nonresidents' beach
"If I went to
Palos Verdes, I'd get killed," he said, referring to a
popular surfing area south of here. "People getting into
fistfights, damaging cars."
residents like John Tindall, 70, a retiree who bought in
Paradise Cove 18 years ago and still lives there with
his wife in his 1970 model, are reacting to the influx
of new affluence with amusement.
"No matter how
much they pay, the people seem very friendly," he said.
"But the more they pay, the less they're here."
account for less than 10 percent of the overall housing
stock nationwide. Bruce Savage, a spokesman for the
Manufactured Housing Institute, said that buyers pay an
average of about $50,000 for the mobile home and another
$45,000 for the land.
But he and
others in the industry say all bets are off in
resortlike communities where prices reflect high demand.
Robert Kleinhenz, the deputy chief economist for the
California Association of Realtors, said that in a state
where median price for the traditional house is
$471,000, it is not surprising it is leading the trend
toward the upscale trailer park.
Carter, an agent with Pritchett-Rapf & Associates
here who specializes in mobile homes, said he sold his
first million-dollar one last year but "there's plenty
now in the parks that would sell for over $1 million if
they came on the market."
the vice president of sales for a manufacturer of
upscale mobile homes, Silvercrest Western Homes
Corporation, said that beginning three years ago, mobile
homes on private property have sold for $1 million or
more in prime areas of San Francisco, San Diego and
homes come with some drawbacks. Financing is hard to
come by. and when people do get it, the loan amounts are
smaller and the interest rates higher, real estate
agents note. This is because buyers in mobile home parks
lease their land space rather than own it (lease fees
here in Malibu can range from $800 to $2,500 a month), a
set-up that many of them overlook because of trade-offs
like no property taxes and rent-controlled lease
But there is
perhaps a bigger hump to overcome, agents say: the
trailer trash stereotype.
"You still get
the stigma, especially on the telephone," said Mr.
Carter, the real estate agent. "When you say it's a
mobile home or manufactured home, they don't even want
to listen to you."
"But when they
come out and try to price other things in Malibu, it's
an easy sale," he said.
skeptical was Bobi Leonard, 54, an interior designer who
had a lot of movie star clients as well as businesses
who said that when she realized that the address for a
date six years ago was in a mobile home park she almost
made a U-turn to go back home.
"I said, 'Oh my
God, I can't date a guy who lives in a mobile home
park,' " said Ms. Leonard, whose previous homes were in
the seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom range.
But the man
(Greg Mooers, a life coach and spiritual guide who was
once a monk) and the park won. In 1999 the couple
married and bought a corner space in Tahitian Terrace, a
mobile home park off the Pacific Coast Highway in
Pacific Palisades. Since then she has spent close to
$400,000 turning her home into a tropical oasis of bird
of paradise palm trees, animal prints and burning
candles and has helped others redesign their mobile
this is a treasure," she said, pointing at 180-degree
ocean views, quiet environment and 10-mile-per-hour
speed limits just minutes away from the freeway and city
life. "No gardeners. No pool men. I began to realize it
was a simpler way of life." (Although she does have an
electronic garage gate and motorized awnings that react
to wind and rain.)
wife, Deborah Conrad, 37, a Los Angeles lawyer, admits
she had to warm up to the concept of having a mobile
home as the couple's second home and still is "not
nearly as enthusiastic as he is." She likes Paradise
Cove, she said, but even there the homes are still
movable and too close together, many still look boxy
from the outside and the public perception still comes
from bad news about them.
"Most of the
time, when you hear about mobile homes, you hear about a
hurricane that's hit them," she said.
But it is the
residents who bought their trailers at bargain prices as
recently as a few years ago who are having the last
laugh, real estate agents noted.
"In the last
five years prices have been doubling each year," said
Shen Schulz, an agent with Coldwell Banker here who last
year moved his wife and 6-year-old twin sons to a mobile
home at Point Dume Club.
Now the new
buyers who are transforming ugly ducklings into swans
say they may never sell. Dr. Conrad, who drives a 2004
Jaguar but has rented a Ford pickup truck for his jaunts
to his mobile home, said he hoped his wife becomes
comfortable enough to some day retire there.
And Mr. Rocco
and his wife are expecting their first child, whom they
plan to raise in Paradise Cove.
"I'm going to
raise my kid in a trailer park," he
For information on buying or selling bay
area manufactured homes or
mobile homes, please contact me at
510-429-4800 or send me a note on the Contact Joanne form.
P.S. Be sure to add us to your
Gardiner, Broker, e-PRO Realtor®
California Department of
Real EstateBrokers License Number:
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